UBC Math Bio Seminar: Ian Wong

  • Date: 11/08/2023
  • Time: 13:45
Ian Wong, Brown University

University of British Columbia


The Shape of Things to Come: Topological Data Analysis of Cellular Architectures


Animal tissues exhibit complex spatial architectures that emerge from cell-cell interactions. For instance, transitions between individual cells and multicellular groups occur widely in embryonic development, wound healing, and tumor progression. Although these collective behaviors are readily apparent to human observers, automated and unsupervised classification remains challenging. In this seminar, I will present recent results using topological data analysis for human interpretable machine learning of cellular architectures. First, we show that Wasserstein distances between persistence diagrams reveal distinct individual, clustered, and branching organization in epithelial cells. Second, we demonstrate the use of persistence images to classify spot and stripe patterning that occur due to self-sorting of two distinct cell types (“differential adhesion”). Finally, we consider topological cell shape generators trained using human neutrophils from healthy donors and septic patients. These results highlight the promise of topological approaches to elucidate the underlying structure of noisy and sparsely sampled biological datasets.



Speaker Biography: 

Ian Wong is Associate Professor of Engineering and of Pathology / Laboratory Medicine at Brown University. He engineers new miniaturized technologies based on biomaterials and microfluidics to investigate cancer cell invasion, drug resistance, and heterogeneity. He is also interested in the unconventional fabrication of bio and nano-materials using self-assembly and 3D printing. He did his graduate work on the directed self-assembly of biomolecular materials with Nick Melosh, receiving a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Stanford University. His postdoctoral training was with Mehmet Toner and Daniel Irimia at the Center for Engineering in Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. He has been recognized with an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, a Damon Runyon Cancer Research Fellowship, and the Brown University Pierrepont Award for Outstanding Advising.

Other Information: 

Location: ESB 4133

Time: 1.45pm Pacific